I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
Well, this absolutely wasn't what I expected it to be. I picked up The Merciless because it was billed as YA horror, and I'm a sucker for anything labeled as such. Watching an author take a horror story, and gently manipulate it for a YA audience, is tons of fun for me. Sometimes they're amazing. Sometimes they're my favorite horror stories. Sometimes, unfortunately, they fall short.
I'm willing to suspend disbelief to get lost in a book like this. If the author is willing to build the background, get me invested in the characters, and set up the tension, I'm all in. It doesn't matter if the villain is a giant cockroach or a serial killer clown. I'm in. I just need to feel like I'm being slowly lead toward an epic climax. Which is why The Merciless lost me after the first few chapters. I never felt like I actually knew Sofia. Her so-called "friends" were barely introduced before she fell head-over-heels in adoration of them. Every single plot point seemed too convenient. Nothing felt organic. Worse yet, this book relies heavily on gore and shock value. I'm all for that, if it's done in a way that adds to the story. In this case, it felt forced.
The other issue I had was that this book is really heavy on the use of God. I understand that the concept of good vs. evil, or God vs. Satan, is often used in stories like this. It makes sense, because it sets a line between what we consider to be normal human behavior, and what lies waiting in the darkest part of some people. What bothers me, is when there is no preface for the use of God. Up until the end of this story, Riley and her friends simply felt like fanatics. No reasoning behind their behavior. No set up. Just crazy religious fanaticism. As for Sofia, she mentions early on that she isn't really religious. Yet, she's willing to go along with everything these girls tell her to do. Even when she knows it's wrong.
Which brings me to the last point, and that's the fact that there is nothing redeeming about Sofia's character. It's like those really terrible horror movies where you actually hope all the characters die. You're not really invested in them. They make terrible decisions constantly. By the time the movie is halfway over, you're just hoping that they'll hurry up and die in some spectacular way. Add in an ending that drove me mad, and you have a 2-star rating. I made it through, but I won't be reading The Merciless again any time soon.